Thursday, June 19, 2014

Today, the feast of Corpus Christi, is a holiday in the Vatican, and the only news coming out of Vatican City this morning was the announcement that the Pope had accepted the resignation of Bishop Timothy Anthony McDonnell of Springfield in Massachusetts, who reached retirement age, and the appointment of Bishop Mitchell Thomas Rozanski, up to now auxiliary in Baltimore, as his successor.

Because it is a holiday, this means Vatican offices are closed and all personnel, including the doormen in buildings owned by the Vatican, such as my apartment building, have the day off. However, I must note that the Holy See Press Office and the Secretariat of State are always staffed even if in a reduced manner on Sundays and holidays.

The Pope had a quiet morning but that changes shortly because, at 7 pm Rome time, as is traditional on this feast, he will say Mass at St. John Lateran Basilica (his cathedral see as Bishop of Rome).

This evening, at the conclusion of Mass, Pope Francis will proceed directly by car to the square in front of St. Mary Major Basilica and wait for the arrival of the Blessed Sacrament procession, led by the cardinal vicar of Rome, for the conclusion with solemn Benediction.

In the past Popes have either walked the kilometer distance between the two basilicas or been driven in an open vehicle, kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament which is in a monstrance. Francis has decided not to take the long walk along Via Merulana in view of several upcoming events - in particular his trip to the diocese of Cassano allJonio in Calabria on Saturday. He prefers not to ride in an open vehicle so that, in the spirit of the procession and of this important feast, attention would be given to the Blessed Sacrament the true focus of the procession.

Here is the liturgical booklet for tonights celebration: text here


An update from Fides News Agency from Mosul, Iraq, whose Catholic bishop is my friend, Abp. Amel Nona, Here he recounts the problems of the besieged city and diocese: "In the villages in the Nineveh plain that have accommodated part of the population that has fled Mosul, the situation is worsening day by day. There has been no water and electricity for two days. Fuel is beginning to run out. And last night a part of Mosul was bombed, causing a new exodus of civilians."

This is how Chaldean Archbishop Nona describes the progressive deterioration of the living conditions of the population after the offensive that placed the city under the control of the militia of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, June 18, in all the Chaldean communities in the world a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Iraq, convened by Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, was observed. "Here in the village of Tilkif," says Abp. Nona, "we will pray with children and families, asking the Sacred Heart of Jesus to build peace in our hearts, and to preserve all of our fellow citizens from violence and war."

Regarding speculation about possible military intervention of foreign powers, the Chaldean archbishop of Mosul noted that, "already here in Iraq we have seen so many times that war and military interventions do not solve anything and the problems sooner or later explode again in a more devastating way. A common language and instruments of dialogue must be found with patience that engage all Iraqis."

Meanwhile, a first exploratory visit of a UNICEF team in the Nineveh plain was made in order to promote in coming days initiatives for the benefit of children and young people involved in the exodus from the conflict zones. There are about 50 people in the Erbil UNICEF office. "Our first priority," said Marzio Babille, a UNICEF worker for Iraq, "is to protect children in Iraq, with particular attention to minority communities that in this area have been penalized for some time.

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